English is the official language of Australia. However, many Australians, or Aussies (pronounced Ozzies), use words and expressions that may be unfamiliar to Canadians. Although not all Australians use them, most Australians are familiar with expressions such as "fair dinkum" (true or honest) or "bonzer bloke" (a good fellow). Other expressions that Canadians may find different are those common in England, but not in North America, such as petrol (gasoline), lift (elevator) or biro (ballpoint pen).

Australians speak with a distinctive accent, referred to colloquially as "Strine." It is broad and flat and varies according to region. Some words are shortened to one or two syllables, and then "y," "ie," or "o" is added to the end. For example, the television is called the "telly," a barbeque is known as a "barbie," or surfers are called "surfies."

Today, many immigrant groups in Australia continue to use their native languages, as well as English. Radio programs are now broadcast in fifty-two languages. Some Aborigines in the Outback speak little or no English. Aborigines once had at least 100 languages and many dialects. Unfortunately, many of these languages have died out. Pitjantjatjara is the most common dialect in the western desert language group. It contains three vowels and 17 consonants. Complicated tongue action is required to pronounce words in this language. Many Australian words, such as kangaroo, kookaburra and wallaby, have been derived from Aboriginal words.

Since there is no written Aboriginal language, traditions are passed down through stories, songs and rituals. For example, "song lines" are songs that describe the landmarks of journeys; Aborigines used these songs to guide them through the desert.

   Did you know?

The Australian accent is known as "Strine." This word is thought to be the word "Australian" spoken through closed teeth. Some scholars say this pronunciation came about because of the need to keep one's trap (mouth) shut against blowies (blow flies).

  Canadian Australian
  Hello   G'day
  Thank you   Ta
  Friend   Mate, cobber
  No problem   No worries, No dramas
  Man   Bloke
  Woman   Sheila
  Cowboy   Stockman, Jillaroo, Jackeroo
  Soldier   Digger
  Food   Tucker, grub
  Candy   Lolly
  To feel unwell   Feel crook

   Did you know?

When people get lost in the bush, they use the Aboriginal custom of cupping their hands to their mouths and calling out "Coo-ee." The sound echoes and can be heard far away. Anyone who hears it responds by calling "Coo-ee" back.